Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - March 23, 2007

A new home

While the rest of the family took Mom out to eat last Friday, husband Art went to her house to set up a desktop computer, monitor and printer - our surprise gift for her 83rd birthday. When we arrived back at her house, we led her into the room where Art had decorated her new "toys" with red bows.

But they weren't really new. The computer and related parts, except for the printer, had belonged to Art's cousin Claudia in Wisconsin. When her son upgraded her components last spring, she wasn't sure what to do with the old ones. Art - who will rarely turn down any used car or computer part - took them gladly.

He had intended to refurbish the computer and give it to our oldest daughter's roommate who is computer-less. But after Mariya received her new laptop last summer, she pretty much abandoned her desktop unit - a situation her roommate quickly seized upon. And so, the old machine sat on the floor at Art's office for months, waiting patiently for someone to give it a proper home.

And now it has found one! Mom was thrilled with the re-gifted items. Even though her back had been bothering her, after we left, she just had to play with her new acquisition, sending us an e-mail:

"Hi, everyone! I'm actually using my new toy. Thanks to all! . . . and here is my message. Whooppee!!"

However, this isn't Mom's first computer. When she turned 65, Art gave her an old Compaq with 5 1/4-inch floppy drives. She used it rarely, complaining about documents "disappearing." Art had another term for it: "operator error."

When she and Dad left the farm several years ago, that computer went to the great beyond. But the last few years, Mom has been becoming increasingly envious of how the rest of us have access to e-mail, particularly since my sister Gaila lives in Bolivia and e-mail is such an easy and inexpensive way to stay in touch with her.

But I think it was Mom's friend Stan who provided the real motivation. He encouraged her to began working on her memoirs on his machine, which she did. Soon she started hinting that it would be nice to have her own machine. So Art loaned her the laptop he had given Gaila to use when she and her girls were here last summer.

That lit the fuse!

Recently, Mom started working on a booklet about the schools in the county where she grew up. She also began hinting it would be very handy to have a printer so she could print out pages as she goes.

Once again, husband Art pulled a rabbit - er printer, out of his hat. Well, not exactly his hat. Several months ago he noticed a printer sitting in someone's trash near his work. He took it to work, cleared the paper jam, checked it over and discovered it worked fine. But then it also went into hibernation, waiting for a new owner. And now it has found that new home and neither computer nor printer is lonely any more.

When Claudia heard the news, she e-mailed us: "We're glad to know that my old computer finally has a good home! I hope she enjoys it as much as I did!"

I know Mom is. Over the weekend, several people arrived to help her celebrate her birthday. Each time a new set of guests came, Mom insisted on booting up the computer and showing them the progress she has made on her school history project.

So, it's the age-old story: "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

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